ELLINGTON - The Western New York division of the United States National Defense Force Support Command is holding a gala on Saturday, in honor of the veterans of the United States military, in collaboration with the Baptist Church of Ellington and the Made In America Store.
Taking place at the church, the gala will include speeches from state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, Congressman Chris Collins, R-Clarence, and Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan, and will end with a performance from Ricky Lee, a country artist from Nashville, Tennessee.
The 53rd Division of the United States National Defense Force Support Command, led by General John Dlugosz, has been organizing this event for the past five years, with the goal of honoring all who have served in the military. This year, they have added to the scale of the event by including participants and sponsors from Cattaraugus, Erie and Niagara counties, in addition to Chautauqua County. Also attending are members of the Coast Guard stationed in Buffalo, honor guards, members of various local VFW and American Legion lodges and members of the Blue Star Mothers. Food will be served.
A notable addition to this year's Veterans Gala festivities is the scheduled two-hour long performance by Lee, known for his many shows performed in honor of veterans. The performance is sponsored by the Made in America Store of Elma.
Don Moore, Lieutenant Colonel of the 53rd Division United States National Defense Force Support Command, had a major role in creating the Veterans Gala and helping it to become an annual event. It has grown substantially during this time.
"The first year we did it we probably had only 30 or 40 people there, but the last few times we have had over 100 people," Moore said. "Everything is donated so it doesn't come out of anybody else's pockets. If there is any cost that incurs we incur it ourselves. We try to get as many donations as possible."
An event such as the gala is just one of many ways that the United States National Defense Force Support Command carries out its mission of honoring the sacrifices of those who have served in the military. The organization also organizes book drives and food drives to aid veterans and local communities.
"We want to give our veterans the honor they deserve," said Moore, a veteran of the Vietnam War. "All veterans past, present, and future - we want to give them a day in the limelight."
The Veterans Gala will be held Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at the Baptist Church of Ellington. The performance by Ricky Lee is scheduled to take place at approximately 2 p.m., following addresses by various speakers. For more information, or to offer donations, Moore can be contacted at 673-6593.